The Queen

Movie: Directed by Stephen Freares.

Inciting Event: The Queen learns Princess Diana has been fatally injured in a Paris car accident. The central conflict in this film is about the royal family being out of touch with their subjects, particularly in regard to Diana’s relationship with the public. The conflict has not yet arisen at this point: there is not yet a goal and therefore no obstacle. But this is the event that sets it all in motion.

Note, how the previous scenes, up to this point, are all about setting the stage by putting the major players (e.g., Tony Blair) into place.

First Plot Point: The Queen informs the Prime Minister that Diana’s funeral will be a private family affair. And… the conflict begins. This is a very low-key moment, which can be easy to miss as a plot point—but that’s exactly what it is. Not until this moment are we confronted with the main conflict: the Queen’s wishes vs. the people’s.

First Pinch Point: The Queen learns a public funeral has been decided upon by Diana’s family.

Again, this is a very subtle moment, but it emphasizes the escalating lack of understanding and communication between the two central viewpoints. The Queen is stymied in her own wishes, emphasizing the antagonistic force, even as the media coverage of the public’s reaction to Diana’s death emphasizes what is at stake for the royal family in this confrontation.

Midpoint: The people begin demanding, via the press, that the Queen return to London. She outright refuses—but she is shaken. The Truth, as she understands it about her people, is upended. This is reinforced by a quieter moment of introspection as she catches sight of the magnificent stag her husband and grandsons have been hunting.

Second Pinch Point: The Prime Minister finally convinces the Queen that “to save the monarchy” she must bend to the people’s wishes and return to London immediately. She submits to this pressure from the antagonistic force and agrees.

Third Plot Point: In London, the Queen walks among the people and reads some of the notes they’ve left with the mountains of flowers for Diana—including harsh words blaming Her Majesty for the tragedy. The Queen must finally and fully face her new and unexpected relationship with her people.

Climax: Diana’s funeral takes place, with the Queen stoically listening as Diana is extolled and vigorously mourned.

Climactc Moment: The Queen’s desire for a traditional role and a private funeral are utterly overturned.

Resolution: The Queen reconciles with the Prime Minister, with both of them acknowledging the other’s place in their evolving word.

Notes: This is a quiet film with subtle turning points, but it is a utter masterpiece of good plotting. The Queen follows a Disillusionment Arc.

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